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Are you struggling with moss in the lawn?
We know, it’s unsatisfying and annoying, to say the least. But don’t worry, as there are various remedial solutions that you can apply in order to restore the uniform texture and green look of your turf.
So, if you:
Then read on, because this post is just for you!
Mosses belong to the Bryophyta division – a type of classification of plants, which don’t produce flowers. They usually thrive in damp, shady and acidic-soil conditions, with some exceptions, and reproduce through spores.
On that note, some types grow in lime, alkaline or very dry acid soils. There are more than 12 000 species, but British garden lovers usually have to deal with just a few common types of the tuft-forming plant.
For instance, the fern-like species Eurhynchium and Hypnum can be quite troublesome and cause issues on many types of turfs. These mosses trail among the grass blades on moist soils, creating a spongy mat on your lawn.
Depending on their variety, mosses can be dark green, light green, blue-green or yellowish-green in colour and more. They can grow loose in between the grass stems, giving you that springy feel when walking over your lawn. Or, the plant can look like a thick, dense mat, formed by clumped-together, solid-looking but soft tufts of green growth.
Often, mosses are confused with other non-vascular plants like hornworts and liverworts, as well as lichens, which are composite organisms from the symbiosis between different fungi and algae.
There are various causes for moss on grass. This may be a temporary problem, a permanent feature on your turfed area or a seasonal “characteristic” of your lawn, say, when winter moss (Ceratodon purpureus) appears every year on your grassed plot, for instance.
Below, we list the most common reasons for moss in a lawn that could be spoiling your turf:
There are different opinions on when to get rid of moss, but based on our expertise, you’re most likely going to succeed in this quest in the spring or autumn.
As moss spores, in the UK, in April and September, the general advice is to try to remove it before the plant starts to reproduce and spread. Furthermore, physical moss elimination methods cause some degree of stress to your turf. So, in relation to this, getting rid of the unwanted plant in early spring and autumn gives the lawn a better chance to recover.
During the onset of spring, the grass is yet to prepare for the growing season and if you remove moss from a lawn in the autumn, the turf has plenty of time to “recuperate”, repair itself and get stronger in the forthcoming winter.
Note that your lawn needs plenty of moisture and relatively mild weather in order to mend itself with the help of fertiliser. Hence, summer and winter, when the temperatures could be too high or too low, and rainfalls are somewhat scarce, is the time deemed unsuitable for getting rid of moss.
Getting rid of lawn moss is possible if you have some patience and knowledge. Most importantly, once you determine the likely reasons for the moss invasion on your turf and the extent of the issue, you’ll be able to make a decision on the right approach.
There are some effective physical methods and general lawn maintenance techniques, as well as widespread chemical moss control or DIY solutions. They are suitable for moss problems, both small or gone a bit out of hand. You can apply a combination of moss elimination and prevention methods at the same time.
The following cultivar methods are proven to eradicate moss in the lawn.
Scarification involves physically removing moss, thatch build-up and weeds with a tool. Depending on the size of your lawn, you can use a rake, a manual/walk-behind scarifier or a petrol/electric scarifier.
If you use a powered scarifier, make sure to cut the grass first, before you proceed with raking out the moss build-up. Also, note that the soil should be moist – not too dry and not too wet.
If you decide to apply a moss killing agent beforehand, ensure that you give it enough time to work, as recommended on the product label instructions, before scarifying your turf. Remember that you can hire a combo type of equipment that, with the appropriate attachments, becomes a lawnmower, a scarifier or an aerator.
Another non-chemical way of removing the undesired plant is applying an easy moss spot-killing method by using a burner blowtorch. However, the technique is only suitable for small moss build-ups that have appeared here and there on your lawn. Pay heed not to damage the surrounding grass and repair the bare patch with some grass seeds.
Overseeding is a versatile way of maintaining the health of your turfed area. You can resort to it if the grass is growing thin all over or apply it as an effective method of fixing a patchy lawn.
And, of course, overseeding the bare spot once the moss has been removed will help you prevent it from coming back. Just make sure to add some compost over the area and evenly sprinkle on top and mix in your grass seed material.
Pruning branches that cast shade over the moss-infested area will make the removal task more successful. If need be, you may have to consider felling the tree altogether to deter the moss plant from emerging again. However, you’ll still need to make the effort of physically removing the tufts of matted growth.
Also, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate whether you’ve got the most suitable type of grass growing on your lawn. After all, if the area suffers from limited sunlight exposure, consider sowing shade-tolerant grass or laying turf that thrives in predominantly shady gardens.
You can probably guess that proper lawn care will minimise the risk of moss in the lawn or weeds overtaking the grass. So, make sure that you don’t neglect regular lawn maintenance jobs and, most importantly, don’t complete them at the wrong time of the year.
In other words, feed, irrigate, aerate and topdress the turfed area correctly to avoid poor soil nutrient conditions, waterlogging/drying out, soil compaction and drainage issues.
Improve soil texture and its nutrient status by mixing in organic matter in spring and autumn. Test the pH of your soil and adjust it accordingly if need be, especially considering that most moss varieties prefer acidic soils.
Sometimes, chemical methods need to be applied, if the moss in your lawn covers large areas. You can use a moss-killing product (ferrous sulphate) alone or apply a combo treatment that contains a fertilising agent, as well. This way, you can still rake the blackened moss and rest assured that grass health will be enhanced. Again, spring and autumn is the best time to spray your grassed plot with a moss killer.
To keep lawn moss at bay, you should apply good grass maintenance practices, which also act as preventative measures. Although we’ve already mentioned some, let’s see what they are in more detail!
Did you know that you can add the raked-out moss to your compost bin and reap all the benefits the following year? After all, one of moss’ commercial uses is the production of peat, especially out of species from the Sphagnum genus. Preferably, mix the moss with other organic matter in the proportion of 1:4 to ensure that it doesn’t take too long to decompose properly.
And if you wish to consult with an expert on lawn maintenance or get help with the care of your turf, you can always contact Fantastic Services!
Find a professional to take care of your lawn.
To summarise what we’ve learned, here are our final thoughts on getting rid of lawn moss and how to prevent it from coming back:
Did you find our post helpful? Do you have your own tips on removing moss from lawns? Then, please, use the comment space below and share your advice with our avid readers!
Header image source: Shutterstock / By stephen chatterton